Saturday, March 27, 2010

School expenses

Dd and I had to go shopping this morning for black shoes she would need to march in a parade (for band class at school).  I was a little perturbed that I was expected to go out and pay money for shoes she will wear once, maybe twice.  We looked at cheap tennis shoes at Walmart, but she wasn't too keen on anything they had (she's got a jr high image, you know!).  We went to JC Penneys and she ended up finding some LA Gear black tennis shoes she liked that were on sale for $32 (reg. $48).  This was way more than I wanted to spend on a one time thing, but she said she really liked them and would pay half from her own money.  The sales clerk scanned some coupon that added discounts on top of the sale price and they ended up only being $25! And Dd likes them so much she will wear them alot.  She's spent years wearing those darn skateboard type of shoes that she stuffs her laces in and has under her soles! After wearing these new shoes all afternoon she commented she forgot how good it felt to wear "good" shoes.

Hectic week

It's been kind of a stressful, hectic week.  With my 91 yr old Grandma all moved into her new assisted living apartment, we thought things would settle down a little now. much for that idea.  Grandma has been a total "poop" about the whole new living situation.  Absolutely nothing about it makes her happy.  My poor Mom was beside herself for the first week.  Finally just deciding the situation just called for some "tough love"on her part.  Then Monday, after dinner, my Grandma was heading back up to her apartment and fell in the elevator.  She was inside as another was trying to get in and the door was starting to shut. Out of instinct Grandma put her wobbly little arm out to try and stop the door - bad idea - as she certainly doesn't have the strength for that and down she went and hit her head.  They called the paramedics and then tried to call my Mom (who wasn't home) and then called me. She was ok, other than a scrape to her elbow and a little bump on her head and didn't have to go to the hospital. (though now her whole arm is a big bruise)

The rest of this past week went downhill from there, with Grandma complaining even more about her new home and eating less than the little she normally eats.  On Thursday my Mom finally just took her to her place to stay through this weekend, to try and get her to eat, rest, and get some strength back.  I feel so bad for my mom in having to deal with this.  This is a VERY nice assisted living complex.  My Grandma is getting a little bit forgetful of current things, but is by no means not mentally capable of knowing/understanding that she can't live on her own any more.  It's just so surprising that she is being so negative about it all.  Before the fall in the elevator both my mom and I had decided that my Mom just really needed to let my Grandma be "on her own" a bit more now than the first week (where my mom was spending every single day with her, sometimes over there twice a day) - to let her get adjusted/used to the routine there, while my Mom could finally get some much needed time to her own life.

At her old house, Grandma basically just sat by herself most all day. My Mom would drive to see her about 4 (sometimes 5) days a week, usually spending half the day with her.  Now she is at a place filled with people to visit with at any time and my mom is closer to drive to see her.  She told my Mom she didn't like this place because "she's lonely"! Oh brother!  It seems she's just complaining about anything she can think of regarding her new home.  Guess we'll see what happens next week.  Mom says she's taking her back and not going over there every single day like she has been.  Mom just keeps saying to me "I hope I'm not like that to you when I get that old and have to move!"  So am I, LOL.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Extra Income

Dh managed to profit about $140 from ebay sales this past 2 weeks, so that is welcome money.  I received a $100 visa debit/gift card in the mail as a rebate on Ds's contacts.  I guess these are the new way to do rebates now, instead of a check.  I much prefer the check.  I did get online with Visa to see exactly how to use the card, since I'd never be able to get what I'm purchasing to come out to exactly at $100.  I guess I'm just supposed to tell the cashier I want $100 put on the card before I have them try to run it for the full purchase amount.  I think I'll just use this at Walmart when I'm buying groceries this afternoon. I always go to the same checker - he's awesome and friendly and seems pretty smart, so he probably won't screw it up LOL.

I don't think I posted that he also sold the other big piece of equipment he had left to sell from his business. He got $3000 for it (was asking $3500).  He has one more thing for sale for $750 and a guy came and looked at it the other day, and seemed really interested, but we haven't heard back from him.  Dh hasn't done anything with the $3000 yet.  He has been wanting to buy an older pickup, something we can haul, pull a trailer with and also something more decent for Ds to drive, other than this 24 yr old car that isn't too reliable. So, he's just going to keep looking for a really good deal, I think...though it's really hard for him to hold onto money just sitting there in front of him! I honestly can't believe I married someone so opposite of me on money.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No disability income

Back several years ago when Dh was seeing doctors here there and everywhere, he tried to apply for disability with Social Security. Of course he was denied (I've heard they deny everyone up front).  He appealed and was then denied based on their conclusion he could work 2 hrs a day.  Hallelujah! He could support his family on a job he could find that was 2 hrs a day! NOT! By then he gave up and I couldn't convince him to use an attorney to fight it (nor did we even have the money at the time to get an attorney to fight it).

I just got his annual Social Security statement in the mail the other day.  According to this he is no longer even eligible to get disability - he doesn't have enough "credits" for the past 10 yrs. Most of those years he was showing a loss on his income tax return for the business (or very little income) and several years of no income at all.  Well, that's just great. He's worked for the most part since he was 16 yrs old and can't get anything because technically he didn't make any money the last 10 yrs. But then on the one page it says "even a young person, who has worked as few as 2 yrs, may be able to get disability.  He shows income 22 out of 29 yrs of work and isn't eligible anymore?

That is very disappointing news, as we had been talking recently that he was willing to start going back to the doctors (not expecting any change in that they can't figure out what is wrong with him), but at least to get the ball rolling so he could get an attorney to apply and fight for disability.  We were thinking even a $1000 a month would sure be helpful.

Moving Day

I took yesterday off work to help my mom get my grandma all moved into her her assisted living apartment.  What an exhausting day! It's only a little studio apartment, with a bedroom alcove, still lots of stuff to unpack and put away.  At nearly 92 Grandma couldn't do much to help, other than to tell us exactly how to do things :-)

It's a very nice place and I think she will do well there, especially for eating, since they do all her meals.  I think she has tended to not eat a lot living on her own as she doesn't feel like cooking or doesn't know what sounds good to eat.  In my opinion, that probably contributes quite a bit to the days she doesn't feel so well.  She had a few things she grumbled about yesterday (the brand new carpet looks "dirty" - it's a taupe brown that kind of shows light and dark in the texture, her apartment key was hard to get out of the lock) , but all in all I think she'll settle in. It is such a relief knowing she is safe and looked after at all times now - and will give my mom back some free time she needs after spending years being my dad's caretaker. Plus she is closer to us, so less driving time to go see her.

Speaking of Mom - she is the BEST!  I paid her off one of the loans we had from her.  I still owe her $3,000, but that's a whole lot better than the $9,350 the balance was at! I reminded her that a year ago I borrowed $648 to pay Dd's braces in full.  She said not to worry about it. She also turned around and handed me back $1000 - $500 for each of the kids to save for their own vehicles.  So that went right into their savings accounts.

Driving home from Grandma's new place yesterday, I was so tired and decided to stop and get fast food, rather than make dinner at home.  But, as I got closer to home, I talked myself out of doing that. I figured I could just as easily make us some soup, salad, and sandwiches.  So, I saved at least $16 by not going to get take out.  I'm working from home today, so this morning I put a pot roast in the crockpot for tonights dinner. Later I'll get some bread going in the bread machine. It will smell good in our home today!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Decluttering contined

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been slowly decluttering little areas around the house.  I've also been doing this quietly and not bringing attention of it to the other's that cohabit this house.  Well, it must be rubbing off.  The other day Dh decided it was time for "round 3" in parting with some more of Ds's trophy collection.  Round One was 2 years ago and Round 2 was a year ago!  We're talkin' ALOT of trophies and what's mostly been left this past year are the BIG ones.  I'm talkin' some as tall as me, like 50 or more of them!  We have a big family room (that we don't really use other than my desk area and Ds's drafting table) but those things still are taking up probably close to 25% of the rooms floor space.

They are Ds's trophies, but Dh is the one who is sentimental about them and has had such a hard time parting with them.  We pulled off all the plates and placques on them signifying the wins and I took a picture. They did manage to weed out 20 of them that we will recycle to a kids organization.  These 20 alone probably take up a 3 or 4 square foot area on the floor!  And we had 2 extra tv's in this room (a 13 in and a 19 in) that aren't used, so we have listed them on craigslist.

We also have a large dog crate (42x29) in one corner of the room, that our spoiled, lovable dog rarely uses, only when he has to be home alone, which is like hardly ever, since Dh doesn't get out of the house much.  So we decided to collapse it and will just fold it out when we need to use it.  Now, if I could just get Ds to get rid of the weight bench he never uses, this room will look a little more usable, rather than just a catch all for stuff.

One of these days, I'll get my desk decluttered :-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekly Grocery bill

Hmph!  I think I need to be more realistic on what it costs to feed us for a week.  It wasn't too bad, but I still need to buy pop and water (I didn't buy pop at $7.48 at Walmart as I see Safeway has it for $5.49 this week, along with case of water at $2.77), and I know I will need a couple more gallons of milk midweek.  I spent $119 on food and $35 on non food (dog food, drano, and school supplies).  I did use $5.25 in coupons this week.

I guess I need to realize it will be a little higher since we are not doing fast food/take out as my expense is going down in that area.  I had an idea that I think is starting to help bring the food budget down.  When we were eating fast food at least 3 times a week, I would only meal plan for 4-5 it was a guarantee that we would have to go get fast food, since I didn't have a meal planned or anything purchased on hand to make a meal at home. Now I am planning for 7, even 8, dinner meals for the week. That way, if we get down to the end of the week and the last thing on the menu doesn't sound too good, we have another choice. And it's helped - the last 2 weeks we've only gotten fast food 1 time each week.

I don't plan breakfast and lunch meals.  Since the kids are in school and I'm at work 3 days a week, there isn't much point in it.  We all kinda do our own thing for those meals and I just try to keep on hand what we always eat.  Dh pretty much has had the same breakfast and lunch for years.  For breakfast I make him an "egg sandwich", for lunch he usually has lunch meat and cheese on 7 grain bread and some chips.  Ds is lucky to eat breakfast - since sometimes he doesn't even get up until almost lunch time (he goes to school at night and stays up late). Since he was about 3 yrs old he's pretty much lived on PB&J sandwiches. Dd has cereal, toast, or instant breakfast drink for breakfast, and lately she's been buying lunch at school (usually a bagel and cream cheese). I really don't like a big breakfast first thing in the morning, so since my teenage years I pretty much always have instant breakfast drink.  Lunch is leftovers or soup at hand.

I know some of our dinner meals could be made cheaper if I made from scratch, but with working full time (and the fact that I really don't like to cook) it's hard to get up the iniative to cook.

Hacked for a bit

Wow, I went to log into my blog and view it and it was redirecting to another site. I freaked for a minute and then googled (gotta love google) my predicament and quickly found others having same issue today. It was a hit counter I had added as a gadget.  It was a bit tricky to remove - you had to be really quick to hit the remove button, so it took me a few tries, but now it's gone and blog is working properly.  I had a feeling something was fishy about this counter, it was showing like 600+ hits.  The reality is more like zero LOL!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Food Spending this week

I'm a little late posting this but my grocery shopping trip last Friday ended up being $162! Ouch. I still don't know why it was so high. I was hoping it would be around $125.  Taking Dd with me (but I love her company!) doesn't help as she always finds things I forget we need or she adds to the list.  I think part of the extra is I'm actually buying for 6-7 dinners for the week, since we are trying not get have fast food more than one night a week. I did buy a few meals that were expensive - Stouffer's family size lasagna (6.84), Tyson chicken wings ($7.44) and a big box of hotpockets for Ds ($11.38), and some cut melon ($6.50 - I really should buy the actual melons and cut them up myself!)

I did come across, the prior week, that Walmart now sells their store brand of bottled water.  I always wondered why they did not have a GreatValue brand of bottled water. Dh drinks water like crazy and I usually spend $4-5 for a case, though lately Albertson's has been having it for $3.50 (I buy 2 cases a week).  The good news is their case price is $2.97 - that's about $106 a year savings!  Though this may change in the near future. Our wonderful (I say this sarcastically) governor is probably going to sign a bill that includes a .01 cent PER OUNCE tax on bottled water.  That would make the $2.97 case cost an extra $4.05!  That is so ridiculous.  When I told dh he mentioned he would be ok with getting a water filter system, if this law passes.  We don't actually drink our tap water too much. We are on a private well, owned by one of our neighbors. It is their responsibility to maintain it and treat the water, but when I checked with the county health department years back, this is more on the honor system.  The county requires them to submit a sample once a year.  When I asked how do you actually know that is where they got the sample from? What if they went to a city water tap and put that in the test bottle? The county's answer was they can't control it.  So....we don't fully trust this as drinking water, especially since dh likes to drink alot of water.

As per usual, we're almost out of milk by today so I picked up 2 more gallons this morning.  I shouldn't have to buy any other grocery items this week.  Dh did splurge for lunch today and went and picked up a fish and chips meal to go from a tavern nearby.  It's one of his favorites and he actually hasn't had it for at least a year, probably closer to 2 years.  They've upped their prices though - it came to $10.30.  But he says he's filled up and won't really need dinner now.

Hopefully next week will be less money.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


One of the ways I save money is by using our library - alot.  I use it for books, books on cd, and dvd's.  A couple of years ago we used to have movies delivered.  That was $16.33 a month, nearly $200 a year.  When I realized I could get all the movies through the library and Redbox I dropped that expense.  I occasionally use Redbox where a one night rental is $1.09 (w/tax), but most of the times I have used Redbox I have a coupon code for a free movie. 

I absolutely love to read, but don't like buying books for 2 reasons. One the cost, and the other reason is I would end up with tons of books and even more clutter. For my hour drive (if I am lucky it's only an hour) to and from work 3 days a week I listen to books on CD.  This is so much fun and makes the hour go by so fast as I get hooked on the stories I am listening to.  My daughter gets quite a few books at the library, too.

Luckily our nice library is only a couple of miles away so it's very convenient.  I can get online and browse for titles and put what I'd like to borrow on reserve. They either transfer it from a library that has it in, or I wait until a copy becomes available.  Quite often I have to wait awhile, but I try to keep quite a list on reserve, so that way, I usually have something to read, listen to, or watch.  I get an email when something is ready to pick up and emails reminding me when a due date is coming (though I still sometimes forget and have a late fine - ah well!) When the kids were preschool age I used to take them one night a week for story time and they always enjoyed that.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grandma update

Good news - my grandma's little mobile home sold and we found her an apartment at an assisted living place fairly nearby.  It'll be less than a 10 min drive for my mom and probably 15 min for me to go see her.  I haven't seen the place yet.  The place we had first looked at ended up increasing the price $500 per month after my mom got more interested in it. 

Grandma is a little stressed with all the change coming.  I'm sure once she gets settled in and in a routine she will do fine.  I know she doesn't even realize how depressing living all alone and being alone so much of the time really is making her.  I think being around other folks and having help to care for her will do wonders for her. AND is will be so much easier on my mom, who less than a year ago lost my dad to a very long bout with MS, stroke, etc.  She was trying to be full time caregiver to my dad and part time caregiver to my grandma at the same time.  It wore her out and I didn't want to see her becoming full time caregiver to my grandma now.


I'm sure the experts are correct - a cluttered home corresponds with cluttered finances.  I have never been a very good housekeeper.  There's clutter and there are piles.  I stack papers in piles..on m desk, on my dresser, on top of file cabinets - you get the picture.  And we've had lots of clutter, especially in our family room which became the catch all for "too much stuff". 

I've been working at it though, both in the house and financially.  But, it's a been a slow process - over a year and a half.  We started with our family room, which when the kids were little was the "play room", with our "office" area in one corner.  The summer before last we finally tackled it - taking loads of stuff to Goodwill. For the most part it's stayed fairly clean, though it is still what I would consider cluttered because there are tons of trophy's that Dh will not part with (they belong to the kids)

The past few weeks I've been trying to make sure I use some of my weekend time (or weekday evening time, if I'm not too tired) to at least get one little decluttering project done.  So far I have cecluttered our laundry room, cleaned my bathroom counter top of all the stuff, cleaned off a dresser top filled with papers, straightened up my night stand and cleaned off all the clothes laying on the cedar chest.  Who knew - underneath all those clothes was an antique sewing machine! LOL.  So far, it's all stayed clean.

This weekend I had an idea for the kids cluttered small bathroom (which also serves as the guest bathroom).  As Dd says, it's all her brothers stuff! So Dd and I headed off to Lowe's and purchased a nice oak medicine cabinet to hang on the wall and get all the stuff covering every inch of the counterspace up inside. It looks wonderful! So nice and clean :-)

Not sure what the next little area will be - my desk area really really needs it, but that might have to be broken into a couple of project times.  It'll be interesting to see how this uncluttered home affects our finances.